‘Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies’ Review: A Gripping, Epic Retelling
Movie lovers who breathlessly followed the brilliant Lord of the Rings trilogy of films, also directed by Jackson, have been disappointed by the first two rather slow retellings of The Hobbit — a far thinner story than The Rings.
Thankfully, in this new film, out Dec. 17, Jackson has rediscovered his storytelling gene. From the moment the film opens with the terrified Lake-town residents under a deathly attack from fire-breathing dragon Smaug, ( Benedict Cumberbatch )the action is nonstop.
But it’s not just the action, which barely ever lets up, that is so engrossing — it’s also the personal stories of each of the characters.
Strangely, Bilbo Baggins (Ian Holm) is the least interesting and engaging of the tale’s characters, although he plays a pivotal role.
Instead, it’s Bard the Bowman’s (Luke Evans) courage and love of family — not to mention handsome looks — and the unlikely love between elf fighter maiden Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly) and dwarf Kili (Aidan Turner) that keep you glued to the screen.
Then there’s the tortured relationship and unspoken love between the mighty elf king Thranduil (Lee Pace) and his courageous soldier son, Legolas Greenleaf (Orlando Bloom), which you discover is far more complicated than you could ever have imagined.
Plus, there’s the deep, centuries-long love and respect between the wizard Gandolf ( Ian McKellen ) and the powerful elven queen Galadriel (Cate Blanchett).
Finally, the film focuses at its center on the struggle for the dwarf king Thorin Oakenshield’s (Richard Armitage) soul.
Thorin and his quest have been the emotional center of the past two Hobbit films, but as The Battle of the Five Armies opens, he has lost all his kingly courage and bold sense of mission.
Unfortunately, Thorin’s descension into “dragon sickness” — an obsession with the dwarves’ gold treasure inside Lonely Mountain — almost brings the film to a plodding halt too many times. This is the one miss in Jackson’s hit.
Dragon sickness is a drag for both the victim and for everyone else — his loyal contingent of dwarf warriors, Bilbo, the elf army, and the desperate people of Lake-town.
But selfish, gold-obsessed Thorin is a drag for the viewer too. There are just too many scenes focused up close on his face while he spews his mean-spirited, gold-hoarding nastiness.
Thankfully, the epic battle outside of Lonely Mountain ramps up the military and emotional action.
Diabolical Sauron ( Benedict Cumberbatch)has arisen from the depths of Mordor and he sends two divisions of ugly, evil orcs to take all of Lonely Mountain’s gold and bring darkness to Middle-earth.
As the dwarf, elf and Lake-town armies brutally battle, it’s love that makes things really interesting.
‘The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies’ Is A Must-See
Bard the Bowman desperately fights to protect his children from death, Tauriel battles to save Kili, Legolas flies through the air, literally, to save Tauriel, and Thorin risks all to save his beloved dwarf tribe.
Who knows whether J.R.R. Tolkien was really focused on complicated relationships between family and between lovers? But Peter Jackson takes The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies to a whole new engrossing level by delving into these ties, which tug on the heart.
There’s nothing better in the film than when the icy elf king Thranduil, who you almost think is another evil-doer, reveals a very unexpected side.
Surprises like these, plus gorgeous Middle-earth action, make this film a must-see!
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies opens in theaters on Dec. 17.
HollywoodLifers, do you plan to see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies? Let me know.
— Bonnie Fuller
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